The following Question on Notice was asked by the Member for Warren-Blackwood, Terry Redman and answered today in the lower house by Reece Whitby, the Parliamentary Secretary representing the Environment Minister, Hon Stephen Dawson MLC.
ENVIRONMENT — ENHANCED PRESCRIBED BURNING PROGRAM
Mr T. Redman to the parliamentary secretary representing the Minister for Environment; Disability Services; Electoral Affairs:
I refer to the 2018/19 mid year financial review showing a reduction to the ‘Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program’ for the 2018/19 season and ask:
(a) Has the reduced allocation for the 18/19 financial year impacted the spring and autumn prescribed burning programs for this season:
(i) If so, how; and
(ii) If not, why not;
(b) Is it the intention of the Minister to keep this royalties for regions funded program as a separate line item under the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Budget:
(i) If not, why not;
(c) Can the Minister refute or otherwise community discussion that these funds are likely to come under the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and not the DBCA; and
(d) Can the Minister confirm the predicted area of Prescribed Burning met for this current season?
Mr R. Whitby replied:
(i) Not applicable.
(ii) The amount showing in the mid-year financial review for the ‘Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program’ represents the balance of the $20 million that was allocated over a four-year period commencing in 2015–16. This amount is the result of higher than expected expenditure against the program in 2016–17 and 2017–18, which resulted in prescribed burning achievements in the south west of the State of 248,000 and 218,000 hectares respectively. Funding for the Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program is in addition to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ (DBCA) existing prescribed burning budget of around $11 million per year for regions in the south west of the State.
(b) The matter of future funding in the form of a continued Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program for DBCA is being considered as part of the 2019–20 budget process.
(i) Not applicable.
(c) Subject to consideration during the current budget process, I can confirm that any ongoing funding for this program would be allocated to DBCA and not the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.
(d) No. The total number of hectares achieved for 2018–19 will be dependent on suitable weather conditions occurring in autumn 2019.